Astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to discover the first pair of supermassive black holes in a spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way. At a distance of 160 million light years, it is also the nearest known pair of supermassive black holes.
The black holes are located near the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 3393. Separated by only 490 light years, the black holes are likely the remnant of a merger of two galaxies of unequal mass a billion or more years ago.
“If this galaxy wasn’t so close we’d have no chance of separating the two black holes in the way we have here,” said Pepi Fabbiano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., who led the study that appears in this week’s electronic issue of the journal Nature. “Since this galaxy was right under our noses by cosmic standards, it makes us wonder how many of these black hole pairs we’ve been missing.”
- New observations from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer
for Mars (CRISM) show the presence of multiple magmatic intrusions in
the Valles Marineris canyon on Mars
- A new study indicates that one of Saturn’s moons, Dione, probably has
a tenuous atmosphere.
- New observations of Saturn’s southern auroral oval made simultaneously
in ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) wavelengths show how complex and
dynamic the auroral oval is.
Scientists are expressing confidence that questions about life on Mars, which have captured human imagination for centuries, finally may be answered, thanks in part to new life-detection tools up to 1,000 times more sensitive than previous instruments.
“The bottom line is that if life is out there, the high-tech tools of chemistry will find it sooner or later,” said Jeffrey Bada, Ph.D., co-organizer of a special two-day symposium on the Red Planet, which began here today during the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). “It certainly is starting to look like there may be something alive out there somewhere, with Mars being the most accessible place to search,” Bada added.
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Senior managers representing 10 space agencies from around the world met in Kyoto, Japan today to advance the Global Exploration Roadmap for coordinated space exploration.
During the past year, the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) has developed a long-range human exploration strategy. It begins with the International Space Station and expands human presence throughout the solar system, leading ultimately to human missions to explore the surface of Mars. The roadmap flows from this strategy and identifies two potential pathways: “Asteroid Next” and “Moon Next.”
On its way to the biggest planet in the solar system — Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft took time to capture its home planet and its natural satellite — the moon.
“This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “This view of our planet shows how Earth looks from the outside, illustrating a special perspective of our role and place in the universe. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves.”
The image was taken by the spacecraft’s camera, JunoCam, on Aug. 26 when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away. The image was taken as part of the mission team’s checkout of the Juno spacecraft. The team is conducting its initial detailed checks on the spacecraft’s instruments and subsystems after its launch on Aug. 5.
Stars aren’t shy about sending out birth announcements. They fire off energetic jets of glowing gas travelling at supersonic speeds in opposite directions through space.
Although astronomers have looked at still pictures of stellar jets for decades, now they can watch movies, thanks to the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
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NASA has established an astrophysics technology fellowship named for the woman many credit as one of the key contributors in the creation of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship in Astrophysics is designed to foster technologies that advance scientific investigations in the origin and physics of the universe and future exoplanet exploration. The fellowship will help early career researchers develop innovative technologies to enable scientific breakthroughs, while creating the skills necessary to lead astrophysics projects and future investigations.